On Aug. 6, the Press Herald reported on the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan and published a wonderful Maine Voices column by Rebecca Gibbons reminding us that nuclear weapons “vast destructive potential remains.”

The first nuclear attack killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet many readers are probably as concerned with the immediate threat posed by Covid-19.

It is striking to realize that more Americans have now been killed by COVID-19 (approximately 160,000 people) than those who lost their lives that day 75 years ago (estimated at 140,000). Tens of thousands more died subsequently from injuries they suffered in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks and tens of thousands more Americans will die from COVID-19 over coming months.

Both pandemics and nuclear weapons care little about the politics or the nationalities of their victims. They kill huge numbers of innocent people indiscriminately. And we have within our means the potential to save lives that are otherwise at risk from both global threats.

Both require us to act. Here in Maine, our senators and representatives must be urged to act on our behalf – to support the policies outlined in the Back from the Brink campaign:

• Commit to no first use of nuclear weapons
• End sole unchecked presidential authority to launch them
• Take nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
• Stop replacing our entire nuclear arsenal
• Pursue negotiations to eliminate them

We know what we need to do. Only political courage and determination are lacking.

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